A Mother’s Testimonial – “My Son Overcame Bullying and ADHD Through Tiger Schulmann’s MMA”

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By: Nicole Makovitz – Parent of Tsmma Abington Student

I cannot speak highly enough about my experience at Tiger Schulmann’s of Abington.  Sensei Garzillo is an amazing role model and teacher.

I will be the first to admit, I was extremely skeptical of the “so called benefits” a martial arts program could offer.  Being an elementary and special education teacher for over seven years, I have always preached “two wrongs don’t make a right” and “if someone hits you, be the bigger person and walk away to tell an adult”.  For years, I told my students that tattling was only acceptable if someone was hurt, stealing, or fighting.  I couldn’t believe the emphasis schools were putting on “bullying” and the programs that surrounded bully prevention.  I like to think I was so naive to the prevalence of bullying because my students behaved in my classroom and were so busy learning that bullying didn’t exist. It wasn’t until my son’s third grade year that my outlook and opinion on bullying changed.

Being an elementary and special education teacher for over seven years, I have always preached “two wrongs don’t make a right” and “if someone hits you, be the bigger person and walk away to tell an adult”. It wasn’t until my son’s third grade year that my outlook and opinion on bullying changed.

My nine-year-old son came home with a busted lip and letter from his teacher informing me that he had been hit on the playground by a fellow third grader.  My son did exactly what he had been taught to do for years; he walked away and told an adult.  Little did I know that the child who hit my son was a repeat offender and the principal and administrators knew him by first name.  Being a teacher myself, I knew how incredibly stressful it is to deal with obnoxious over-reacting parents.  I decided to let his school handle this incident and talk to Jayden about the situation as well.  About two weeks later, my precious little boy came home yet again in tears because of an incident with the same boy pushing him, embarrassing him, and hurting him; not only physically but emotionally.

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Around the same time as the playground bullying incident, my son’s teacher had requested a meeting to discuss issues regarding focus and attention in the classroom setting. 

Around the same time as the playground bullying incident, my son’s teacher had requested a meeting to discuss issues regarding focus and attention in the classroom setting.  This was not the first time I had heard this from a teacher, but I was adamant that due to my extensive training as a special education teacher and my three certifications, I would be able to identify ADHD in my own son!  I took him to numerous pediatricians and neurologist and hesitantly accepted their ADHD diagnosis after about six different doctor’s visits.  Initially, I tried herbal supplements but eventually filled the prescription for a commonly prescribed ADHD medication for children.  At my request, we started at the lowest possible dosage.  His teachers saw no improvement, which in turn caused a dosage adjustment to about triple the original prescribed.

At the parent-teacher conference, his teachers reported improved focus, however, they were still not satisfied with his academic achievement and felt lack of focus was the contributing factor.  He had always been a “C” student but they felt he was capable of much more.  Now, I always had high expectations for my son, but I also thought I knew how far I could push him academically before he broke down.  This observation by his teachers was an eye opener for me; they were holding a higher academic expectation for him than I was.

At this point, I had felt like I was failing as a mother and a teacher.  How could my precious child be struggling in so many areas of his life?!? I had heard other parents, fellow teachers, and school counselors suggesting martial arts because of the many benefits it could offer an individual and at this point I was willing to try anything.  I had reached my breaking point as a parent, and wanted nothing more in my life but to help my son succeed.  I signed Jayden up reluctantly for a trial martial arts class at Tiger Schulmann’s a few weeks after that parent-teacher conference.  Admittedly, improvements did not occur over night; nor did his grades jump to all A’s in week; however, Jayden is a better athlete, student, and son because of TSMMA.  It took many classes to convince me that this was a good decision for my son. Martial Arts is not something you learn overnight.  It takes focus, concentration, and discipline to be successful in the program.

Among the many benefits Martial Arts offers, the most prevalent in my child’s life are; increased self-esteem and self-respect, his confidence levels soared and it has affected all other areas of his life

I cannot speak highly enough about my experience at Tiger Schulmann’s of Abington.  Sensei Garzillo is an amazing role model and teacher.  I have told him many times he would make a wonderful educator, and his response is always the same; “I am a teacher!”  He couldn’t be more correct! He teaches self-defense, self-discipline, socialization skills, and builds confidence every day the children are in his class.  Among the many benefits Martial Arts offers, the most prevalent in my child’s life are; increased self-esteem and self-respect, his confidence levels soared and it has affected all other areas of his life such as school, basketball, lacrosse, and personal relationships.  Jayden went from being the kid who couldn’t sit still on the mat, to the kid who’s concentration couldn’t be broken even if one tried.  He wakes up thinking about martial arts, and goes to bed wondering how he is going to win his next tournament.  At the first parent teacher conference of fourth grade, his teacher praised Jayden as a student and individual.  She even said “Upper Moreland needs more Jaydens in this world” and for the first time in his educational career he made the honor roll!

I now have no question that my son is going to make a difference in this world and I have Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts and Sensei Garzillo to thank!

As a first year Martial Arts student, Jayden participated in the COC this year.  Wearing his high-white belt, a smile on his face, and confidence that he has never achieved before, he stepped out on that mat to show his parents and friends that he is a success.  He placed second in his first competition and can’t wait to compete again.  I was once the mom who sat in silence gritting my teeth, and now I scream submission holds and tips throughout his match.  I, myself, look forward to the inspiring pep-talk Sensei gives his class every day, because his daily lessons aren’t just about learning a new submission, or a jumping round kick, they are about real life issues.  He reminds his students every day that in order to be a successful member of society one must train hard and have self-discipline.  It means giving it your all even when you’re tired, sick, or unmotivated.  He preaches to the students to have a “non quitting spirit” and reminds them that there is a big difference between discipline and self-discipline.  I use many of his inspiring pep talks in my classroom and at home because they are about life experiences, not just Martial Arts experiences.

Jayden went from being the kid who couldn’t sit still on the mat, to the kid who’s concentration couldn’t be broken even if one tried.

I have never been more proud to cheer on my son and look forward to many more years as a Martial Arts parent.  In writing this success story, tears roll down my face; and for the first time in years, they are the happiest of tears because I now have no question that my son is going to make a difference in this world and I have Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts and Sensei Garzillo to thank!

Read more Success Stories @TSMMA Abington